Steven Spielberg finally unveiled the teaser for Ready Player One to the masses in July, and immediately the hunt began for the footage’s multitude of pop-culture references, from Back to the Future to The Iron Giant. Now, with the arrival of the second trailer this afternoon, the search starts anew for the multitude of additional nods to video games, movies and music.
Based on Ernest Cline’s novel, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic 2045 in which the world has suffered an energy crisis after the depletion of fossil fuels. To escape the day-to-day doldrums of a dreary existence, people venture into the world of the OASIS, a virtual world where anything and everything is possible. Somewhere within the simulation is an Easter egg that will give its finder the keys to the virtual kingdom, and Wade Watts’ life changes in an instant when he solves the first clue left behind by OASIS creator James Halliday. The discovery leads other Easter egg hunters (aka “gunters”) to chase after him in hopes of obtaining the game’s ultimate treasure for themselves.
Since Halliday was a child of the 1980s, the OASIS reality was stocked to the brim with references from the decade, but Spielberg has broadened that approach in the film. The cinematic adaptation unabashedly makes reference to just about any intellectual property one can think of — regardless of the decade in which it released — so let’s delve into the new trailer and see what all we can discover!
Might as Well Jump
Just like the first trailer’s homage to Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination” and use of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” the choices made for the new trailer’s soundtrack are references in and of themselves.
The lyrics “Let me take you on a trip” are pulled from Depeche Mode’s 1990 track “World in my Eyes.” Its title alludes to the virtual reality headset that people in the story use to enter the simulated OASIS landscapes. We also hear Van Halen’s “Jump” booming throughout a good portion of the footage in a nod to their reign during the 1980s.
The band’s legendary lead guitarist, Eddie Van Halen, provided the guitar riffs that Marty McFly plays on a cassette in Back to the Future, the 1985 sci fi/comedy that’s also referred to throughout both trailers via Wade’s choice of vehicle in the OASIS: the time-traveling DeLorean.
At the 1:29 mark, the trailer shows Wade’s avatar reaching for a virtual key that is seemingly bequeathed to him by an incredibly tall, robed figure. This character is a reference to Anorak, the in-game avatar of OASIS creator James Halliday, which means the key is one of the novel’s three MacGuffins hidden throughout the simulated world.
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